Friday, 17 September, 2021

UK scraps Covid vaccine deal with Valneva


London, Sept. 13: French vaccine maker Valneva says the UK government has scrapped a deal for its Covid-19 vaccine.

The UK had about 100 million doses on order after it increased its request by 40 million in February. The company said in a statement that the UK government served notice over allegations of a breach of the agreement, which it "strenuously denies".

Valneva's jab is still being tested in trials.

Although regulators must be satisfied before the rollout of any vaccine, manufacturing at a site in West Lothian, Scotland, had already started.

The plant in Scotland employs about 250 people, including scientists and lab technicians.

In a statement on its website, Valneva said: "Valneva SE, a speciality vaccine company, today announced that it has received a termination notice from the UK Government (HMG) in relation to the Supply Agreement for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001.

"The contract provides HMG with the right to terminate. HMG has alleged that the company is in breach of its obligations under the supply agreement, but the company strenuously denies this."

The firm said on Monday that results from its phase three trials were due later this year.

It added: "Valneva has worked tirelessly, and to its best efforts, on the collaboration with HMG including investing significant resources and effort to respond to HMG's requests for variant-derived vaccines."

The company hopes that dependent on the results of its continuing trials and sign-off from the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), initial approval could still be granted in 2021.

Its vaccine is expected to be given in two doses and contains a dead version of coronavirus that cannot cause disease but should teach the body's immune system how to fight it.

But given that it is not yet approved for use by UK regulators, it will not affect the current rollout of jabs.

Speaking to BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland, Scotland's Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "We have enough supply even for a booster programme. I want to give absolute confidence to anyone listening that we have the supplies necessary to continue to vaccinate and particularly with a booster programme on the horizon."

Yousaf said that while the announcement would be a big setback for the Livingston plant, he would speak to Valneva to discuss its future.

The Scottish Health Secretary added that he was waiting for further information from the UK government over Valneva's alleged failure to meet the terms of its contract.

SNP MP Hannah Bardell, whose constituency contains the Valneva plant, said she was "incredibly disappointed" by the news.

She pledged she would be "working with Valneva - who have worked tirelessly on this vaccine - and will raise this urgently with the UK government".